Real Life Superheroes


By Erica Thurman, Stepping Stones Director, YWCA McLean County

Some time ago, in preparation for an article I was writing, I asked my 3 children if they could each name a Black female superhero. They responded;


“Angel Salvadore”

“Rosa Parks”

Curious as to my youngest son’s answer, I probed him further.

“Why is Rosa Parks a superhero?”

“Because she helped her people.”

Sometimes, conversations with my children leave me feeling slightly puzzled. In that moment, I was simply humbled. I had prepared myself to write about stereotypical Black superheroes like Storm, Angel Salvadore and Monica Rambeau.

I was prepared to offer my critique on society’s continued oppression of Black women even within the fictional world of comics. Instead, my youngest son managed to point out that in my quest to find the “perfect” fictional Black female superhero; I had overlooked the many real life examples right here in our community.

I would like to tell you about one of those superheroes today.

Linda Foster began her career as a Sub-Foreman in the Building Services Department at Illinois State University (ISU). She then served as Foreman, Supervisor and Assistant Superintendent within the same department before she took her current position as Superintendent in 2001. Linda supervises over 250 employees, managing the largest full-time staff department within Illinois State University.

Linda Foster’s leadership philosophy can best be summarized as “paying it forward.” Through all of her work, Linda prioritizes community youth and young adults, serving as a mentor and advisor in multiple official and unofficial capacities.

Her work with various community organizations epitomizes the concept of paying it forward. Linda has sought to create a better community for all people by working to address systemic racial, gender and class inequalities.

Linda has served as a licensed foster parent for the State of Illinois since 1999. Linda also serves as a Board Chairperson for the Family and Community Resource Center and as First Vice President of the Bloomington Chapter of the NAACP.

Other community organizations that benefit from her service include the American Red Cross, Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, McLean County Jail, Minority and Police Partnership, ISU’s Noir Dance Troupe, the NAACP Student Organization and the Association of Black Academic Employees. All of these organizations serve to provide awareness and resources to underrepresented and underserved populations.

Linda Foster doesn’t wear a cape and calls for assistance aren’t as grand as a bat signal but her contributions to the

Bloomington-Normal community make her an asset to McLean County. That she does it all with no expectation of return makes her a real life superhero.

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